Essential buys for cat owners

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new cat or looking to improve your feline friend’s life at home, here’s my shopping list of essential items to ensure a happier life for your pet.

  • Cat carrier – top-loading carriers are much easier to use than front-loaders because you can lift your cat and place it in the carrier, rather than trying to get the poor little thing in face- or rear-first! The best carrier I have found is a large wire top-loader with a plastic removable base and a secure fastener.  It’s advisable to have one carrier per cat – if you’ve ever tried keeping one cat in the carrier whilst attempting to introduce another one into it, you’ll know what I mean!  Whichever carrier you buy, make sure that it can be securely locked.
  • Large litter tray and “sandy” litter – get the biggest litter tray available, and fill it with sandy, clumping litter. This is the path to cat toileting success – tried and tested!
  • Scratching post or pad – cats need to be able to scratch and pluck to sharpen and maintain their claws, and also to mark their territory. When they scratch, they also scent-mark.  The ideal scratching post is tall and sturdy – they need to be able to stretch up and pluck without the post falling over.  Scratching pads are good for kittens and smaller cats, but often a larger cat can’t get enough purchase on a pad to enable it to pluck satisfactorily.
  • Cat climbing tree – these don’t take up too much floor space, and they are a godsend when it comes to fulfilling two feline needs; to scratch and to be up high. If you can get one that goes up to ceiling height, your cat will love you for it.  They are also very easy to assemble.
  • Toys – it’s true that cats will often shun the expensive toys you buy them and instead prefer to play with the packaging.  However, playing with your cat is a great way to bond with them and it also relives boredom – chasing and hunting is in their make-up and they can become unhappy if they don’t have the opportunity to play.  Dangler toys, particularly those with feathers on the end, are a great way to encourage your cat to hunt and pounce.  If you can get hold of a catnip-infused mouse (Hallswood Animal Sanctuary), your cat may well never let this out of its grip!  Laser toys can be fun, but remember – never point the laser beam into your cat’s eyes, and always give your cat something tangible to play with after using it.  Cats find it very frustrating to chase that little red dot for ages, only to have nothing to show for it.